Tonight the temperature on a winter Sunday night is straggling the minuses but inside the seafront confines of Brighton’s finest venue, the Concorde 2, things are about to get very sweaty. Marking their return to the venue on the back of their startlingly good new album All We Love We Leave Behind, Converge bring three diverse but no less extreme bands to warm the frozen crowd.
First on is Italy’s The Secret, a four headed beast of a band who play something akin to black metal interspersed with Sabbath riffs covered in a crust some twelve inches thick. Approval is shown through an increasing amount of devil horn salutes and raised pints, commending the band’s ability to switch between blastbeats and sludge riffs in a manner not unlike tonight’s headliners.
A Storm Of Light rely on atmospherics rather than brute force to communicate their sprawling, multi visual, sludgey post-rock compositions. A film collage, projected behind the band, shows images of warfare, atomic bombs and riots, providing the ideal backdrop for the ear-splitting cacophony that envelops the crowd in an inescapable wall of pure noise.
The front rows who await Touche Amore are made up almost exclusively of teenagers, proving the bands popularity with the young Tumblr-savvy crowd. As the band plays the first few warm chords of ‘~’ the venue suddenly explodes into life with the soul baring lyrics being screamed back at frontman Jeremy with aplomb. Always emphasising brevity over longevity, the band rattle through songs in quick succession, covering most of 2011’s acclaimed Parting The Sea Before The Brightness And Me as well as a number from their debut …To The Beat Of A Dead Horse. A new song entitled ‘Gravity’ gives the first indication of the bands future direction, a track where ideas are allowed to develop and flourish into the band’s longest song to date.
As the crowd forms in front of the stage, a distinct smell of stale sweat, beer and marijuana emits from the gaggle of metalheads, hardcore kids and other down and outs who have gathered to watch the most influential extreme bands of recent times. Converge take to the stage to little fanfare, no backing track or elaborate entrance. Vocalist Jacob Bannon bluntly states “we’re ready to play” and they launch headfirst into ‘Concubine’ (probably the most extreme seventy-nine seconds of music ever written); the crowd quite literally goes wild for their blastbeat infected hardcore. Driving bass and drums signals the intro to ‘Dark Horse’, a track that possesses much of the unstoppable kinetic energy of a speeding train. The masses at the front exercise their demons in all manner of violent gestures. From some extremely vicious headbanging and air punching to the flailing throng in the pit, the floor is soon covered in puddles of sweat and splattered with blood fallen from smashed noses. ‘Aimless Arrow’ and ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ represent the new album with the crowd reacting to the new songs like they were old favourites. ‘No Light Escapes’ from the recent split seven inch with Napalm Death spurts a fifty second long tirade of aggression. Guitarist Kurt Ballou is every bit the virtuosic guitarist, switching from caustic breakdowns on ‘Axe To Fall’, to two finger tapping and relentless chugging whilst Nate Newton’s driving bass and booming vocals dominate ‘Worms Will Feed’. Converge’s backbone- Ben Koller, provides some of the most devilishly difficult yet undeniably solid drumming in heavy music. As the band leave the stage the crowd are still thirsting for more aural brutality and the band oblige readily with an encore of ‘First Light/ Last Light’ from You Fail Me. The closing schizophrenic breakdown sees the bruised and battered crowd losing their shit for a final time. As the house lights come on, the state of the crowd speaks volumes about the intensity of tonight’s show. The bloodied, sweat-covered throng certainly got what they came for- a masterful performance by one of the most uncompromising bands on the planet.